Virtual clinics: how Manchester students will benefit from new 6bn mental health centre

  • Manchester students will be  first to benefit from 6bn investment into mental health
  • NQ celebrates World Mental Health Day by speaking with those affected by mental illness

Manchester is to be the first place in the country to establish a dedicated centre using virtual clinics to support students with mental health needs.

The new service says it will also offer innovative and accessible treatment, looking at how digital technology can help university students experiencing mental illness.

Students will also find it easier to get referred to mental health services, it is promised.

The initiative is a partnership between the region’s four universities and Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.

NQ spoke with students on campus about their experience as students suffering mental health issues.  

Adam Bailey, 23, a former student at Salford University, said: “I struggled for a long time throughout my four years at university. It knocks your confidence on a daily basis and it’s difficult to get out of bed.

“You see people getting ahead of you and you judge yourself on that because it looks like they’re doing really well.

“If tutors don’t see you asking for help when it’s difficult, they just assume that you’re being lazy and not going in – and that’s not the point at all. There’s still a big stigma attached to it.

“If you’re scared about tackling it, find a friend who helps you out because friends are important, especially if you need someone to talk to.”

Jess Clowes, 19, who studies counselling and psychotherapy at Salford University, added:  “You’ve got to go into the building, you’ve got to wait to book an appointment – all of that takes lots of confidence and a lot of effort that people just don’t have. At the moment, it’s just a long booking process to get someone.”

One in five 16-24 year olds experience depression or anxiety yet students are poorly served when it comes to mental health provision. The transition to university can be a tough time, with many young people living away from home, family and friends for the first time.

One student, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Most self-help books and mental health charities say that your mental health doesn’t define you. What about if it does define us?

“I don’t mind having depression and I don’t mind it defining me – because that’s part of who I am.”

Dr Sandeep Ranote, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist and children’s mental health lead for Greater Manchester said it was  time to treat mental health with the same importance as physical health.

“Good emotional health is the foundation for future well-being. Developing a dedicated mental health service that provides support from ‘prevention to prescription’ enables us to create the campuses of tomorrow.”

The new centre will open in the next academic year.